Short Term 12 is simply: the winner of the Grand Jury Narrative Feature Award and the Narrative Audience Award in SXSW 2013, an adaptation of the original 2008 short of the same name written by Destin Daniel Cretton, and a great movie I missed in 2013.
This movie focuses on an intriguing life within a youth foster care center, in which an adult supervisor, Grace (Brie Larson) works with his part-time friend part-time lover, Mason (John Gallagher, Jr.) along with Jessica (Stephanie Beatriz) and newbie Nate (Rami Malek). They deal with troubling youths with their fears and exploding behaviors–all youths with their own tendency of temper tantrums and tempestuous manifestations of them. Things gone sour when a new girl Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) comes—and her trouble begins to reveal something in her mentor, Grace, the past that she never wants to encounter.
From the very beginning, I can tell that this would be an emotional drama—but turns out it poses more than just an ordinary drama. It resembles a rollercoaster of emotions, as it follows the ups-and-downs in the foster care and in Grace’s personal life. Every kid in the foster care along with their mentors have their own in-depth resentment depicted with layered backgrounds that make each of them not as shallow as it is in the beginning. The story flows smoothly and symphatetically (but surprisingly straightforward); it leaves no space for boredom as it grips you tight and never lets go.
Shot by Brett Pawlak, as the director of photography, the picture marks the indie style with shaky and unstable camera that shoots from very near—so near that we can observe the mimics of each character. I don’t know whether the shaky camera is a deliberate act or technical errors, yet, for me it gives the sense of intensity and ‘indie’ there. The use of natural light and warm colour enhancement—mostly by the works of the editor Nat Sanders—brings “light” to the eye down to our emotion. If you think it’s a completely substantial movie, you might probably be wrong; since it also brings balance between naturalness and ‘natural’ artistic.
Even if the visuals don’t attract your symphaty, superb acting by Brie Larson might mesmerize you as she clearly portrays an adult who deals with troubling youths and troubling past. Her co-star, Gallagher, Jr. puts decent portion of romance and humour there. To my surprise, greatest praises go to all adolescences who portrays the underprivilege youths in the foster care—Kaitlyn Dever’s Jayden, Alex Calloways’ Sammy, Kevin Hernandez’ Luis, or Lakeith Lee Stanfield’s Marcus are so natural and heartwarming. Even if the movie ends in a cliché of happy ending, I won’t bother.
Working in a harrowing matter doesn’t make this movie a boring one, as it slowly creeps into your deepest gland of emotions and mixes everything up. When I finally see this, I understand: good movies don’t always end up in local cinema—so I would need to be really patient waiting for it in disc.
Short Term 12 (2013) —
Drama, Coming-of-Age Directed by: Destin Cretton Written by: Destin Cretton Cinematography by: Brett Pawlak Music by: Joel P. West Edited by: Nat Sanders Starred by: Brie Larson, John Gallagher, Jr., Rami Malek, Kaitlyn Dever, Stephanie Beatriz, Kevin Hernandez, Alex Calloways, Lakeith Lee Stanfield